ROBBIE SAVAGE'S best friend in football Jim Whitley last night revealed his amazement at the Blackburn midfielder's decision to quit international football.
"I've just heard on the radio," said the Wrexham star. "He never mentioned anything to me about it. At first I thought it must be a wind-up.
"He has never mentioned anything about wanting to retire from international football. "He's always given 100% for his country, friendlies or not.
"People slag him off but you would always want him in your team, especially for Wales. But I don't know what his relationship with John Toshack is like.
"He is trying to get back fit for the Blackburn game at Liverpool on Wednesday.
"First and foremost he will be concentrating on getting his career back on track."
Former Wales manager Bobby Gould awarded Savage his first senior cap and also once dropped him from the squad after he tore up a Paolo Maldini shirt before an Italy v Wales game.
But Gould said yesterday: "I was stunned and shocked when I first heard the news this morning. "I know his allegiance to the coat of arms and the shirt. I know how much he loved to play for Wales.
"I thought a lot of him and have the highest regard for him as an individual.
"A lot of people turn against him but they don't know the real Robbie Savage.
"John Toshack made several comments about Robbie's style of play when he was a pundit on TV. After he was appointed Wales manager perhaps the chemistry wasn't there when they got together.
"Sometimes you can make a decision and regret it but Robbie is very much his own person. "I have empathy for Robbie Savage and John Toshack.
"I had to end the international careers of Neville Southall, Ian Rush, David Phillips and Dean Saunders.
"I had a fall-out with Vinnie Jones and regret the way I handled it but in international football there are always players coming to the end of their careers. "But as Wales manager I would always pick Robbie Savage."